The non-human primate striatum undergoes marked prolonged remodeling during postnatal development

Lee J. Martin, Linda C. Cork

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11 Scopus citations


We examined the postnatal ontogeny of the striatum in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) to identify temporal and spatial patterns of histological and chemical maturation. Our goal was to determine whether this forebrain structure is developmentally static or dynamic in postnatal life. Brains from monkeys at 1 day, 1, 4, 6, 9, and 12 months of age (N = 12) and adult monkeys (N = 4) were analyzed. Nissl staining was used to assess striatal volume, cytoarchitecture, and apoptosis. Immunohistochemistry was used to localize and measure substance P (SP), leucine-enkephalin (LENK), tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), and calbindin D28 (CAL) immunoreactivities. Mature brain to body weight ratio was achieved at 4 months of age, and striatal volume increased from ∼1.2 to ∼1.4 cm3 during the first postnatal year. Nissl staining identified, prominently in the caudate nucleus, developmentally persistent discrete cell islands with neuronal densities greater than the surrounding striatal parenchyma (matrix). Losses in neuronal density were observed in island and matrix regions during maturation, and differential developmental programmed cell death was observed in islands and matrix regions. Immunohistochemistry revealed striking changes occurring postnatally in striatal chemical neuroanatomy. At birth, the immature dopaminergic nigrostriatal innervation was characterized by islands enriched inTH-immunoreactive puncta (putative terminals) in the neuropil; TH-enriched islands aligned completely with areas enriched in SP immunoreactivity but low in LENK immunoreactivity. These areas enriched in SP immunoreactivity but low in LENK immunoreactivity were identified as striosome and matrix areas, respectively, because CAL immunoreactivity clearly delineated these territories. SP, LENK, and CAL immunoreactivities appeared as positive neuronal cell bodies, processes, and puncta. The matrix compartment at birth contained relatively low TH-immunoreactive processes and few SP-positive neurons but was densely populated with LENK-immunoreactive neurons. The nucleus accumbens part of the ventral striatum also showed prominent differences in SP, LENK, and CAL immunoreactivities in shell and core territories. During 12 months of postnatal maturation salient changes occurred in neurotransmitter marker localization: TH-positive afferents densely innervated the matrix to exceed levels of immunoreactivity in the striosomes; SP immunoreactivity levels increased in the matrix; and LENK-immunoreactivity levels decreased in the matrix and increased in the striosomes. At 12 months of age, striatal chemoarchitecture was similar qualitatively to adult patterns, but quantitatively different in LENK and SP in caudate, putamen, and nucleus accumbens. This study shows for the first time that the rhesus monkey striatum requires more than 12 months after birth to develop an adult-like pattern of chemical neuroanatomy and that principal neurons within striosomes and matrix have different developmental programs for neuropeptide expression. We conclude that postnatal maturation of the striatal mosaic in primates is not static but, rather, is a protracted and dynamic process that requires many synchronous and compartment-selective changes in afferent innervation and in the expression of genes that regulate neuronal phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number294
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
StatePublished - Sep 22 2014


  • Autism
  • Epigenetics
  • Infant
  • Leucine-enkephalin
  • Nucleus accumbens
  • Rhesus monkey
  • Striatal mosaic
  • Striosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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